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Energy security: Renewables the savior?

Energy security: Renewables the savior?

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  19 Sep 2017 12:00 AM GMT

By Dr B K Mukhopadhyay


Energy Security: Then and Now

I t is well known a fact now that previously energy security was mainly associated with oil supply. But while oil supply remains a key issue, the increasing complexity of energy systems calls for a systematic and rigorous understanding of a wider range of vulnerabilities in as much as disruptions can affect other fuel sources, infrastructure or end-use sectors. Thus, alysis of oil supply security alone is no longer sufficient for understanding a country’s energy security situation as a whole.

The IEA defines energy security as “the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price”. Energy security has many dimensions: while long-term energy security mainly deals with timely investments to supply energy in line with economic developments and sustaible environmental needs, short-term energy security focuses on the ability of the energy system to react promptly to sudden changes within the supply-demand balance. Lack of energy security is thus linked to the negative economic and social impacts of either physical uvailability of energy, or prices that are not competitive or are overly volatile.

Thus, this term refers to availability of tural resources for energy consumption in a given period of time (short or long-term period in order to estimate future energy security). At this juncture each country must think about its future energy security because this is one of the main prerequisites for the future economic growth. Our economy is traditiolly based on fossil fuels (oil, coal and tural gas), and this fact leads to conclusion that only the adequate supply of fossil fuels can guarantee future energy security. There is now the severe limitation. That is why the role of renewable energy in improving energy security is gaining concentrated attention because more renewable energy coming from domestic renewable energy sources means less need for fossil fuels and expensive foreign fuel import. Going for more domestic energy resources instead of relying on expensive foreign fuel import is very positive thing for future energy security.

Energy independence and energy security are two closely connected terms, basically in most cases improved energy security means also improved energy independence.

Threats are on to energy security, - for instance political turmoil in rich oil producing countries, the rise of new economic giants (Chi, India, South Korea, among others, that present heavy competition over energy sources), tural disasters and accidents, etc. Also, energy security doesn’t refer just to the amount of energy resources that are at disposal to certain country but also to a security of energy supply (adequate distribution network).

Recent trends are showing and indicating the ever growing need for recognizing the energy sector as one of the turners for an economy – big or small.

The Global View

if we look at the global picture we could definitely locate that no country is energy – independent. Even Saudi Arabia – the world’s largest oil exporter –imports refined petroleum products like gasoline. Gasoline is imported by UAF. Norway and also Nigeria, whereas tural gas is still imported by Russia and UAF and electricity and coal by Russia and Norway, Thus, the regions with abundant raw resources also rely on import of some form of energy.

The Netherland’s recent unearthing of fresh tural gas potentialities is one of the indicators as to how the energy sector can go on contributing to economic growth over time. It is pertinent to mention here that The Dutch energy industry is responsible for a good 6 percent of GDP or 36 billion Euros per year employing 100,000 people per year. The Netherlands is among the largest importers and exporters of oil and oil products in the world, and has a highly developed gas industry. A gradual transition to green energy ebles Dutch energy companies and institutions to become a top economic sector.

In fact not only the Netherlands, Myanmar, U S, Cada or Cambodia, globally and tiolly, the “architecture of energy systems” is undergoing significant change. Governments, industry and other stakeholders seek new solutions to ensure energy systems underpin 21st century requirements of economic growth, sustaibility and energy security.

Many countries struggle to upgrade their energy systems to fully support current and future requirements of energy security and access, sustaibility and economic growth - looking into pathways to creating a more effective transition towards new energy architecture.

It is a Global Challenge

Thus, stable and reasoble energy prices are needed to reignite, sustain and expand economic growth - as rightly opined by the World Economic Forum.

The IEA is responding to this challenge is by developing a comprehensive tool to measure energy security. The IEA Model of Short-term Energy Security (MOSES) examines both risks and resilience factors [resilience factors include the number of entry points for a country (e.g. ports and pipelines), the level of stocks and the diversity of suppliers] associated with short-term physical disruptions of energy supply that can last for days or weeks. MOSES extends beyond oil to monitor and alyse several important energy sources, as well as the non-energy components (such as infrastructure) that comprise an energy system. Alysis of vulnerability for fossil fuel disruptions, for example, is based on risk factors such as net-import dependence and the political stability of suppliers.

In fact time is ripe for turning to be too tough on energy security front in as much as energy security is the reliable, stable and sustaible supply of energy at affordable prices and social cost. It has been the fact that for many years governments have struggled to provide energy security through a mix of policies that have tempered demand and increased supply, but there is growing evidence that these policies are falling far short of the effort needed. What is more: energy exporters and importers are interdependent and increasingly anxious about the reliability of energy supplies. Additiolly, a number of interlinked issues and challenges have appeared in recent years.

Obvious enough: renewable energy should be the vital part of such a plan, but at the moment it is still relatively expensive even in big economies like the Netherlands. The Governments have to, therefore, pursue an innovation policy to drive down the cost of renewable energy and encourage large-scale application of renewable in the long term. The transition to a low carbon economy depends largely on increases in the efficiency of energy use – in buildings, transport, and industry – and on the efficiency of energy generation.

The Governments have to opt for a balanced, best value-for-money mix of green and grey energy from domestic and foreign sources. Risk-maged [Chernobyl, Fukushima!] nuclear energy is, no doubt, a necessary part of the mix in as much as nuclear energy also reduces dependence on other (fossil) fuel sources, and does not cause CO2 emissions. Even so far as bio-fuels are concerned all is not well.

Side by side, a recent report by the European Environment Agency [EEA] found benefits vary significantly depending on the source of crops. The current mix of crops used for energy is “not favourable to the environment”, accordingly.

It is crystal clear that in the absence of global cooperation progress cannot be expected. Russia, Chi, Brazil, countries around the Arabian Gulf and the Caspian Sea and the USA - Cada [more so after their strong emergence in the LNG market] are big players in the energy market. Intensification of energy relations is a must. Active energy cooperation could improve the security of supply; while at the same time bolster intertiol trade - more access to foreign markets by the developed and the developing zone.

Full-fledged cooperation is thus a must among the major energy consuming tions in the matter of development and exploiting energy resources, especially in energy conservation, improvement of energy efficiency, development of altertive energy resources as well as environmental protection concerning energy utilization and filly contribution towards maintaining the stability and security of intertiol energy supply.

For that matter, no doubt, efforts must be made to promote the use of solar, wind and tidal energy, biomass and other renewable energy sources, especially keeping in mind the fact that the demand for petroleum products in the country has been growing at a rate of around 3 per annum. A comprehensive policy duly covering all of the vital areas such as nuclear energy tapping, minimization of transmission loss, and emphasis on renewable energy sources, can help us inch forward towards self – reliance in energy. Close technical cooperation with the neighboring economies emerges to be the crucial thing, which, in turn, will benefit all of the parties concerned.

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